Becchio takes his tally to double figures

A tweet from one of The Scratching Shed’s Twitter followers summed this one up as a real ‘blood and thunder’ clash between two in-form teams and I really can’t think of a better way to describe it. Both teams started the match with confidence, and both teams set out intent on attacking at Elland Road – one of the few grounds in Britain to defy the elements and not postpone the fixture.

Andy Hughes was the only change for Simon Grayson, replacing the suspended Paul Connolly who served a one match ban for his fifth yellow card this season.

The first chance of the game fell to Jonny Howson who tore away from a Palace defence who were determined to play high up the field. In acres of space, Jonny made no mistake, finishing well and running off to celebrate in front of the South Stand, only to discover the linesman had ruled his effort out for offside. Admittedly, my first reaction was to check the linesman but his flag stayed down and it wasn’t until Howson was celebrating that the linesman seemed to flag. A very late call, but it wasn’t replayed so I’m unsure as to whether it was the right one.

Snoddy, Johnson and Howson all had shots before Palace went close with a header from a set-piece. Snoddy had been the stand-out man for Leeds and was giving the Palace full-back a real nightmare of a shift as he continually ghosted past him to deliver balls into the box. And it was Snodgrass who was the architect of Leeds United’s best first half chance as he cut the ball back across the box, straight to Becchio who missed an absolute sitter before Max Gradel shot wide.

Leeds were dominating, but Palace were always intent on attacking at any opportunity and their resolve paid off as Nathaniel Clyne made Bradley Johnson look like a Sunday League player before crossing low for Neil Danns to give Palace the lead just before the break. The defence looked extremely static and the chance was all too easy for Danns. 0-1

Palace could have been 2-0 up just minutes later too, but Kasper Schmeichel made an excellent save from a Darren Amrbose free-kick. A disappointing end to a first half dominated by Leeds United.

Leeds came out for the second half with purpose, and it was only a series of excellent saves from Palace keeper Speroni that kept the visitors ahead. Becchio, O’Brien, Kilkenny and Sam all forced saves from the visitors keeper, who was looking absolutely unbeatable.

The Whites kept the pressure on however and were finally awarded for their persistance on 81 minutes. A Neil Kilkenny corner was headed about a bit before falling to Luciano Becchio who was handed an easy opportunity to net his tenth goal of the season, and the Argentinian made no mistake.

No sooner had the Leeds United faithful finished celebrating his first, Becchio scored again to give Leeds United the lead with just seven minutes remaining. Ross McCormack was fouled as he looked to break away, but Becchio was alert and picked up on the loose ball to surge forward and net his 11th goal of the season, completing an excellent second half turnaround from Leeds. 2-1

A frantic end to the game followed as Palace tried to restore parity and Leeds tried to kill it off, but neither team managed to add to the scoreline and it was Leeds United who took all three points from a brilliantly contested encounter at Elland Road.

TSS man of the match

Kasper Schmeichel made some excellent saves, not least of which was a strange scrambling one where he seemed to paddle the ball away with his hands. O’Brien, Becchio and Hughes all deserve a mention too, but the stand-out player was clearly Robert Snodgrass who looked threatening and excited the Leeds United fans everytime he touched the ball.

Big shout to the Elland Road groundstaff too who made todays game possible, whilst frozen water brought a halt to the rest of the country.

  • Paul South Wales

    What were McCormack and Paynter like? Heard the commentary on LUTV but couldn’t work out if they looked sharp or not. Another good result, but still letting in goals at home, worryingly. Back in the play-offs though so can’t really complain. Gradel and Snodgrass sounded like they played well, but also Sam when he came on. Nice to see Beckford grab one too, hope he pings a few more in.

  • TSS

    Both did well. Think Paynter got the assist for the equaliser, and McCormack was the one who broke forward for the second so I’m sure the manager was pleased with both of them.

  • Gryff

    I think this could go down as one of the key matches of our season.
    Had we lost, we would have been frustrated at Home by a relatively poor team in freezing conditions (bringing back memories of Brentford last year) and would have been only 6 points ahead of a Crystal Palace team many are tipping for relegation.

    As it is, we showed enough desire to defeat them and are now guaranteed 12 points clear of relegation and within touching distance of being in the playoffs at the halfway point of the season. We’re undefeated in 7, and have 3 points in the bag for what promises to be a very challenging December.

  • TSS

    @gryff

    Can’t see Palace getting relegated. They started the game as an in-form team and looked a lot better than their league position would suggest.

    • Gryff

      @TSS based on this match, I agree. They also must have performed well to beat Donny & Watford, but against Sheffield Utd they were attrocious for 80mins, and to lose to Middlesbrough you’ve got to be on a par with York City!

      This season is going to be an odd one, I think, with no team (apart from Preston) looking markedly worse than a host of mid-table teams. Middlesbrough can show flashes of brilliance to equal Palace at least, they just need a striker (like Hull).

      All the more reason to celebrate our win, though! :-)

  • trueyorxman

    Bradley Johnson Premiership bound! The Aviva version possibly to kick penalties for Leeds Tykes. Christ wasn’t he shocking today?ZDUF

  • Christopher Gee

    With a bit of luck we could have been 3 goals up in the first half but playing 4-5-1 at home does seem a bit too cautious and leaves Becchio stranded. Bringing on McCormack and Paynter sorted it out but maybe we could have risked playing one of them from the start. Swap Faye for Johnson next game please.

  • saltburnwhite

    GREAT result! as gryff said , this was a totally defining game in our season , a defeat to palace and it would have been mid table medicratey/relegation battle.
    But weve won , and kept the momentum going . And now we are only 5 points behind cardiff city in 2nd place ! not bad for a team thrashed by cardiff earlier in the season!
    Keeping expectations down however as this is leeds were talking about but
    I really think we can make a good go of this now , if we can get a good result at burnley and then topple the undefeated QPR and keep our run going ….who knows ……can anyone see a Leeds Utd juggernaut coming?
    I am VERY worried about the Becchio situation though. mixed signals coming out of ER , becchio says he wants to sign , so why hasnt he? and larry has just said he should show some loyalty and sign on the dotted line.
    Id be very upset if we lost luciano

  • les irwin

    one of those games today we looked every bit the better team in 1st half thought our tackling was fantastic or palaces desire to keep the ball was poor??? we should have gone in a half time in front instead we were behind palace were better in 2nd half and bruce had to take one in the face to keep it 1-0 we missed a string of oportunities to get a shot away and our free kicks have been poor for a while too elaborate ,to be fair we made their keeper look good a lot of our efforts were straight at him .all the subs looked lively but the booing of johnson was poor from the leeds fans and unnecessary .palace will feel robbed im sure but over the full 90 mins we just probably deserved a win although for long periods it did look unlikely to be fair to palace their football today especially in the second half will mean their league position will improve and they will not go down as for leeds lets see where we are after a busy xmas /new year but leeds fans on the whole must be happy the only niggle being another goal conceeded .good 3 points hurrahhhh.
    just to finish on another subject on the post just after we lost the world cup to russia i mentioned breaking away as sir kenneth of holbeck has now done ,asside from the fact that for the 1st time ever me and him agree ??? others are thinking the same the deputy of the F A being one we could do it with others f#!k fifa and their world cup lets have a mass resignation from fifa

  • Bill

    Felt Killa had a big game today, Howson escellent and real hats off to Grayson for the changes. Becchio contract the only cloud oh, and the waether outside is frightful…

  • paulg

    I know that most Leeds fans now want to get shot of him, but the departure of Johnson will leave a big hole in our midfield – as there was today. After he went off we simply surrendered midfield, and could have been 2 or 3 down before Becchio’s brace. Palace looked a better side than their league position suggests, although their finishing was even more woeful than ours had been in the first 80 minutes!

    I do worry who is going to do the unsung grunt work in midfield – Faye hasn’t been able to sustain a run of games in the side, and we got muscled off the ball an awful lot again today …..

  • mightywhite83

    @ paulg

    paul mate we finished the game with practicly 5 strikers on the pitch their not hard tackling midfielders or ball players there strikers jonny howson ended up at right back but this was done to get us back in the game which im sorry but it worked wonders grayson made sacrifices to try win us the game and we won so ya cant complain. and as for johnson leaving a big hole wasnth e made to look stupid for there goal??? get him out the team and out someone in who wants to play for leeds. not some premiership wanna be who only cares about the money.

  • EYLeeds

    Leeds were by far the better team and should have gone on to win this game comfortably. Howson’s goal being disallowed was a bad decision and would have changed the game massively.
    Johnson’s contract is irrelevant; He simply does not have an end product to his play. It ends up in row Z or he simply gives the ball away and his defensive qualities (which are reasonable) are not enough to justify his place in the team.

  • Ron

    Very happy to see Lloyd Sam get more time and it sounds like he was a catalyst for our comeback. I agree with derbyshirewhite re. our home formation of 4-5-1 being negative, especially when we have so many strikers on our books, all of whom need game time. It strikes me as odd that we bought so many forwards and yet Larry’s preferred system is a lone striker. Very happy to get the points though. Can someone explain to me how Davide Somma is not getting any minutes after seeming to be a revelation only a month ago?

  • Duval

    Sam, mcormack and paynter all looked sharp yesterday, with robbo now off the books and hopefully Johnson (please please please!) too in a few weeks, let’s hope we sign a quality midfielder in january so we can play 442 and have a real good push for the play offs. Our attacking players are a match for anyone in this league. MOT

  • Will

    Disappointed with Grayson clearly implying Bechcio owes some “loyalty” to the club in the press today.

    Bechhio has scored over 40 goals for Leeds: SG, read this loud and clear – Becchio has already repaid the club.

  • Joey

    WHY CHANGE A SYSTEM OR EVEN MOAN ABOUT IT WHEN YOUR 7GAMES UNBEATEN 4 WINS 3 DRAWS????

  • Colin

    Not bad, not bad at all. If we could go and beat Burnley in the next game, oooh now that would be nice. And then the “big” one, QPR. Let’s concentrate on Burnley first, but a win in that game would take us nicely into really take on QPR and a draw would be a monster result.

    It looks like there’s a real spirit about this team – they just don’t want to lose – and it sounds stupid but there’s far too many teams and players that are quite happy to take their money and not really work for the shirt. Remember this is a 3rd division team with a few new additions. The majority of the Championship teams have “better” players, but great players don’t make a great team. Leeds have good players but are a great team.

    I can’t knock their work ethic and this is down to Simon Grayson. I’m still not Grayson’s biggest fan, but the more time that passes and with results like this coming in, his respect as a manager is rising and he’s proving me wrong.

    Keep it up Simon and rub my nose in it.

  • Hugh Fox

    McCormack was brilliant! Not been his biggest fan so far but he looked very sharp and some of the runs he was making were great. I think we will need to change a little because players will tire during a jam packed fixture list over xmas. I think we needed 3 points since i cant see us gettin much in the next few games.

  • Des

    why change a system?????

    ask Simon Grayson

    he changed it and we won the match

    top man